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Colts Training Camp Day 5: Backfield Enigma

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Kelly Wilkinson/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

WESTFIELD — Colts linebacker E.J. Speed galvanized the defense after a pair of resounding booms from a cannon kicked-off the start of Tuesday’s “Salute to Service” themed practice.

Speed strives to compete at the best of his ability “each play, every play, every day,” and the 28-year old veteran chose to dedicate himself toward better training, eating and sleeping habits to prepare for his fifth NFL season. Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and Speed stuffed consecutive run plays at the line of scrimmage to begin the first 11-on-11 team drill, which started inside the 5-yard line.

“That is just the way we play, we pride in on defense,” Speed said. “I always played like that. Coach Steichen definitely gets us fired up.”

Quarterback Gardner Minshew took over to relieve Richardson like a shutdown closer and hit the defense with three straight airborne strikes. Minshew connected with rookie Josh Downs in the end zone on a slant from the slot. On the next play, Minshew rolled right on a bootleg to the field and found Kylen Granson open on the sail route for another score. To complete the trifecta, Minshew cocked-back and fired a touchdown on a slant to Mike Strachan cutting in from a pick.

“I think it’s a lot of fun when you compete and make it feel real,” Minshew said. “These camps, they get long and these practices day after day. It’s great to have the juice and competition, and the brotherly competitive spirit that we have going on out here. That makes it a lot of fun, and you need a little bit of that (expletive) talk to kind of get you woke up some days.”

The fifth-year QB impressed in the fifth training camp practice, making several key throws to a variety of receivers. Minshew’s longest completion was on a 50-yard seam to Ashton Dulin. In the 7-on-7 drill, Minshew delivered a dart to Isaiah McKenzie on a slant across the middle and the Colts’ speedster gained 30-yards after the catch. His best throw of the day was a brilliantly placed floater off his back foot to Breshad Perriman on a crossing route.

“He was very efficient throwing the football, made the right reads, got the ball out of his hands quick and was really efficient,” Colts head coach Shane Steichen said.

Quarterback Anthony Richardson had a rough outing and finished 5-for-13 passing in team drills. The Colts rookie mentioned learning how to take mental reps at Florida, which prepared the 21-year old to take mental reps while learning Steichen’s intricate playbook.

“It’s really the details,” Richardson said. “The details make up for all the timing. Guys seeking eight steps instead of 10 steps on a route and footwork being in place, being in line. So, the details really matter and that will mix with the timing. The timing is definitely a big aspect of it so you’ve got to be on point.”

In the final 11-on-11 team drill, Richardson found his groove and completed four consecutive passes to McKenzie and Michael Pittman Jr. Most notably, Richardson stepped into the pocket, and delivered a perfect spiral near the sideline to Will Mallory, the Colts fifth round 2023 NFL Draft pick who made his first training camp appearance on Monday after being activated from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

With the dilemma surrounding Jonathan Taylor’s “trade request”, and Zack Moss having to miss six weeks due to a broken right arm suffered on Monday, the Colts signed undrafted free agent Toriano Clinton. The University of Indianapolis standout RB holds several program records, including career rushing yards (4,538), total touchdowns (55), and kickoff return average (30.9 yards per return). The Colts added more depth to the offensive line and signed tackle Dan Skipper, who started five games for the Detroit Lions in 2022.

Indianapolis waived DT Jamal Woods, OT Jordan Murray, and TE Kaden Smith.